Hiking staffs and trekking poles are very similar but different. Your common hiking staff can be used as Trekking poles, but not the other way around. So, if you are looking for something that can do both, we recommend getting hiking staff. If are very serious about your trekking poles, then you will need to invest in a quality trekking pole.
Hiking staff typically are made and built to help the body go forward. Their handles and grips are set at an angle to allow this motion to happen naturally. They are not used to balance yourself or spread your weight out as much as trekking poles but are used to help you keep in motion. Trekking poles are made to have a more upright position and are used to leverage your weight and help with balance. Their handles are designed to be in the upright position. While most hikers typically only use one trekking pole, we do recommend two for balance and help with your back and climbing.
The cost of the poles will be a factor in what the poles are made off. Inexpensive poles are typically made of aluminum or fiberglass. While the more expensive versions are usually made of carbon fiber. If you don’t plan to use your trekking poles or hiking staffs often, then this really wouldn’t matter too much. The weight of these materials is very similar. And, they respond pretty much in the same manner.
How to Choose Trekking Poles
As we have stated before, you will want to go with two. You have two legs, two hands, and two trekking poles. Believe us, your knees will thank us. If you do a lot of river hiking or snow hiking trekking poles are a must and can save a lot of wear and tear on the knees and hips. If you plan on going vertical a lot where you will have to carry your poles by the wrist straps, then one might be a better idea. However, be sure to purchase two at a time, since, it will be hard to find a match should you want two on a later hike.
The size of the pole matters. You want it to be a comfortable length and many poles come adjustable to fit anyone 6’3″ or shorter. If you are taller than 6’3″ then you will want a pole that is at least 53″. If you plan to carry your poles around with you attached to your backpack then you will want them to shrink down to a much smaller size if possible. This will make carrying them much more simple.
Most poles are adjustable, but don’t assume. Always look for the method of adjustment as well. You want to adjust poles as you want to be able to adjust the length at any time. Think about it, you might want a different length going up than going down steep terrain.
And, take note of what type of handles they have. You typically have a choice of cork, rubber or foam. Each come with their own list of benefits and cons.